Harmony had heard Olive, nodding back as she was trying to stay calm. She watched as Jove curled up into a ball and was sucking his ball, breathing at least but still unconscious. What is wrong with him? Suddenly she saw as he had sat up and gasped, incredibly relieved. "Jove, are you okay?!" Harmony questioned as she got closer before listening to him. He said that he had been somewhere else for a bit, like a dream and similar to how they had ended up here earlier before asking if they had noticed any magic happening. "I didn't see anything other than you casting a spell and then fainting. Really? Maybe that statue is the reason why we are here then." she had said back to him. Soon she had felt the wave of heat over her and then the ice on the statue melting quickly, the ground at the base being washed away to reveal a tunnel beneath the statue. "Yeah, that was really odd." Harmony nodded in agreement to Jove and confused, but now glad for the clothes that she is wearing. Then she heard Olive ask if they should head down into the tunnel. "We probably should. We gotta learn more about this statue and this might be our only chance, seeing if this thing was the reason why we ended up here." she said back to her with a nod, curious about the tunnel too. Then she made her way over to the entrance of the tunnel, waiting for the others to follow as well before she would go in.
Jove will cast dancing lights and have two of the four lights float around Olive. "I do have to concentrate to keep these going, but hopefully this helps a bit. Anyone else need some light?" We will split up the lights accordingly with his companions. (If memory serves, Tieflings have darkvision? So one for each of the others if need be.)
"You are better prepared than I am, Jove. Though I don't need much light, having dark vision, thank you for having it ready." Abraxas sees Harmony move toward the tunnel. Have they accidentally weakened the magic that held the ice--a prison?--in place, freeing the statue? But it does not seem to be moving? He watches it for a moment, trying to perceive action on its part.
If it is not moving, the tunnel is the most likely source of more information about it. Abraxas follows Harmony.
Harmony had heard Olive, nodding and wishing that she had a spell that she could use to help. One of the only good things about being a Tiefling is having dark vision at the very least. Luckily Jove had cast a cantrip to make lights float around Olive, asking if anyone else needs it too as she looked over at Isabella. "Thanks Jove. I think Isabella will need it as well." she had said, knowing that Isabella is a Halfling and wouldn't have darkvision. Once everyone is ready and following her, she will head on down into the tunnel and start walking through it, taking the lead.
Within the small tunnel are a set of stone steps that descend for almost 200 feet before ending in a large cellar. Bookshelves line the walls, many of them decayed and crumbled into a mess of wood. The few that are intact still hold many books, some bound, some simply collections of old parchment. In one corner is a large pile of bones.
Harmony hadn't expected all these stairs that went for so long as they were walking down them. Finally they got to a large cellar, surprised to see all the bookshelves and books here, wondering if someone had been here a long time ago. She noticed the bones, wondering if those belonged to people who used to be here and feeling bad. She was then looking around the cellar, wondering if there was a door or exit going to anywhere else.
There does not appear to be an entrance or exit to the room. The bones are mostly charred, and look to belong to around 60 short humanoids, possibly dwarves. Together with Oli's help, Abraxas leafs through what books can be salvaged from the shelves. They have no titles, and have obviously not been taken care of, but they are able to glean enough information to piece together what may have happened.
The books are a collection of journals, histories, and family lineages, dating back 300 years.
"It's Varokaj," Oli explains in wonder. "Was the Ice Basilisk the protector of these bones' owners? Or the reason they are bones in the first place? You're not from here, I should back up. Varokaj was a dwarven nation; seven citadels of kingdoms. Fourteen years ago, there was a lunar eclipse from Vandyr. Whether by nature or by foul magic, during the eclipse a dozen portals opened up, unleashing the worst of Vandyr's monsters into the middle of the dwarven kingdoms. Hydras, manticores, naga, and ninazu eventually brought their kingdoms to ruin, utterly destroying all that they had built. Over the following decade, nearly 30,000 dwarves fled their fallen citadels to surrounding nations, leaving the war in the hands of elven archers from Meervald and Lugat assassins from Tasek that kept the monsters at bay.
The Order of Thalassa used to be much larger than you saw it in Ruskivek. Five years ago, we made an all out assault on the lands of Varokaj, shutting down five portals in a single night, and turning the tide. Our order was decimated. Our strongest mages and warriors fell in those battles, leaving nothing but us scribes and acolytes. Even four years from the day the last portal was closed, we often have to outsource work to traveling adventurers for lack of resources.
These journals...these are histories we thought lost. Mitsi will be thrilled for us to save these and bring them back to civilization."
"The eclipse is bound to happen again, that is just how celestial bodies work. Do you know if they are going to pass soon? Also, if there were 12 portals and this was the site of one of them, that means that there are 11 other areas like this. Maybe not ice basilisk statues, but some sort of strange magic."
Abraxas gathers the journals carefully, striving to keep them in excellent condition for Mitsi and using investigation as he works to determine the location of the portals 19. Is there a map or directions?
He also asks Oli, "Does your order know where the portals will appear? or how we can keep them closed?"
He wonders too if these portals are how they might return to their own world.
Harmony didn't see any sort of exits or entrances here, wondering why only this cellar is below the Ice Basilisk. Then she listened to Oli explain what was in the books and about the history, shocked to hear about the portals unleashing monsters that destroyed the kingdoms of Varokaj. She heard as the reason why the Order is smaller was due to having shut down 5 portals in a night and losing their strongest people five years ago. She had heard Jove and Abraxas, nodding and thinking that maybe they can go back home if they manage to close all these portals. "Sounds like we'll need to go close all these portals up then. We should take these books and bring them back to the city first., having done what we needed to do." Harmony had said back with a smile, hoping that they can carry all these books back without running into any danger. They already took care of the goblins and the nomads along with the other humans are peaceful so it should be fine.
"The portals that we knew of from the war of Varokaj have all been closed by now, though if the Ice Basilisk was a portent that more may be coming then your theories need to be held in mind," Oli answers. "Your findings here are certainly enough to warrant completion of the job when we return."
Abraxas is able to collect thirty histories and keep them intact; the rest are either illegible from damage in the damp cellar, or fall apart from being handled. None of them contain any maps or details of the actual fall of Varokaj, all having been written before the events being described by Oli.
"I would like to go back to the Inn we stayed at. Did we just teleport to the chairs we sat in when we first arrived? Or were we charmed to walk there? Did a portal spit us out? Did we lay dormant for years? These are troubling things. This has me frazzled. The portal thing I mean. Nothing else." Jove begins to bite his fingernails.